Growth in graduate recruitment has slowed while the number of apprenticeship vacancies has soared, new research suggests.
A survey of large employers by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) found that the number of apprenticeship opportunities offered by these firms has increased by 24 per cent year-on-year, while graduate vacancies grew by just 2 per cent.
This marks a slowdown in graduate positions compared with last year, when employers in the survey increased their intake of university leavers by 13 per cent.
The number of internship vacancies rose by 8 per cent year-on-year.
However, the survey of 86 UK businesses showed that graduates still make up the vast majority of post-study recruitment.
This year, the firms were looking to fill more than 14,000 graduate positions, plus 5,000 internships and 3,000 apprenticeships.
Stephen Isherwood, the chief executive of the AGR, said that apprenticeship recruitment was expanding “on a much larger scale than we’d anticipated”.
“We don’t know what the long-term effects will be, but this isn’t a case of employers’ cannibalising their graduate schemes,” Mr Isherwood said. “We’re hearing that businesses view the two groups very separately and that they are complementary.
“Employers are engaging earlier and opening their doors to a wider group of people by presenting alternative options.”
This year’s apprenticeship vacancies represent 1 per cent of AGR members’ workforce, on average, compared with about 2 per cent for graduates.
The survey found that half of the 22,000 roles in the survey were yet to be filled, with IT, law and financial management proving particularly hard to recruit into.
“It’s a candidate’s market at the moment, and employers are finding it increasingly difficult to fill roles,” Mr Isherwood added. “We’re seeing nearly one in ten offers reneged as candidates pull out at the last minute for alternative positions.”